The Death of An Indian

October 22, 2008
Abhinandan Mishra

There was nothing extra-ordinary about Pawan Mahto, a resident of Bara-Khurd village in Nalanda district of Bihar.

The son of a poor farmer, Pawan was one of the hundreds of students from Bihar who were appearing for a railway recruitment exam in Maharashtra on Sunday.

He had hoped to pull himself and his family out of the vicious poverty cycle by getting into the railways. But his hopes were shattered and he died a tragic death after being beaten by the MNS activist for appearing in the recruitment exam.

He failed himself and his family. Or Perhaps he did not. May be he did his bit by seeing to it that at least his dead body brings in some financial help. As the news of his death came in , the Bihar Chief Minister announced a compensation of Rs.150,000 to Pawan's family. Maybe the compensation amount will weigh down the emotions of his old father and his wife.

The theory of Marathimanoos being preached by the goon turned politician called Raj Thackeray, just became more stronger. That too, at the expense of death of a youth who was poor,unemployed and someone who did not have big aspirations.

The death of a poor man will hardly make a news for more than a day or two. In this country hundreds die a non-deserving death. Pawan was just one of them.

Maybe thousands of words about Pawan's death will appear on blogs, edit pages and news-site but still they will fall short of bringing out the true extent of what has occurred.

Pawan's family do not access the internet. And even if they could, they would have surely searched in the vain hope of finding a better reason explaining their son's death.

The truth remains that he died because he was a North-East Indian. Also true is that he was a human who must have felt pain when he died. Which of the two must have been more painful, the physical pain or the pain of being a north Indian, we will never know.

A law graduate from NLIU, Bhopal.Worked for 2 years as a journalist in media organizations like Qatar Tribune, PTI and UNI. Now more of just 'a writer' rather than a 'paid' writer.
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October 22, 2008
03:45 AM


Your last sentence was the final verdict. Stoking emotions for short term gains, is a game, our politicians are adept at, irrespective of the party they belong.

We have imbibed so many bad lessons from the English, and worst lesson is "devide and rule". United India, has a lot of devided Indians, devided on basis of caste, religion, class and now ethnicity.

Jai Hind.

October 22, 2008
03:58 AM

If Raj is truly a leader, he should own the responsibility and his party should compensate Pawan's family and see to it that the family doesn't face any financial problems in future which their son was determined to do.

Can Raj Thackeray do this ?

October 22, 2008
04:58 AM

Do we know why The Railway Board exams for recruitment covered only the Yadavs coming from Bihar and nobody from other states, including Uttar Pradesh?

Apparantly, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad had taken tit-for-tat "anti-Maharashtrian" stand in recruitment in Railways, leading up to confrontation with MNS when the railway exams were exclusively arranged for Biharis as a tit for tat politics by Lalu. MNS tried to disrupt this exams and attacked Biharis coming by trains and asleep on railway platforms.

Speaking of attacks on Biahris and train incidents, here is another news about Bihar how bimaru it has become:

Molestors throw Bihari couple off running train, kill husband

Lucknow, Oct 22 (IANS): A newly married couple was thrown off a running train here early Wednesday when the husband resisted a bid to molest his wife, the police said. The husband, Pappu Sharma, died on the spot. The wife, Abhilasha, was critically injured and was admitted in a hospital.

"According to the initial conversation with the woman, four youths tried to molest her, and when his husband protested, they pushed them off the train near the Mallahaur railway station in the wee hours," inspector Tripurari Pandey of the government railway police told IANS.

The police were recording the statement of the woman.

According to the police, the couple from Bihar, who married a few days ago, was on their way to Ambala in Harayana, where Pappu was a daily wage factory labourer.

They are from Purnia district in Bihar and boarded the Amrapali express for Ambala.

Pandey said according to Abhilasha, the youths also boarded the train in Purnia and started teasing her.

October 22, 2008
10:56 AM

@ Kerty : What is the point of all these stories? Are you justifying the death of the poor student at the hands of MNS goons?

This feeling of regionalism is getting stronger and stronger in India. MNS is just a manifestation of it. I think the biggest mistake we made was to have linguistic states in tyhe first place. I think even now, the cost of re-dividing India purely as a grid with no linguistic lines would prove a boon in the long run, despite the astronimical costs.

October 22, 2008
11:47 AM


There is political manipulations and oneupmanship going on there. And there are many guilty parties in this saga, other than the obvious ones.

This is a prelude to elections in India. Congress party has to split anti-congress base in Maharastra - so it has to prop up Raj Thackeray as a rival within a Shiv Sena's Marathi base so his party can counter Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena in the elections. Congress party also must regain its foothold in UP and Bihar - Mayawati and Nitish have driven congress to desperation - Confrontation with MNS showcases congress and Lalu as champions of people of UP and Bihar, who stand up to Thackerays. It is the congress party which has been manipulating all the tension in Mumbai all along. (In fact not just in Mumbai
but many other parts of India as well). This is an old congress tactic to create tension a few months before electons. This is done to divert people's attention from the real issues as well as to make the congress party look as savior of the people. They won last time similarly by posing as saviour of aam adami. So it is a winning card. (When they actually take action against people like Thackeray). In this particular case it is
also being done to promote Raj Thackeray as a force against Bal Thackeray. We can see lalu, paswan, amar, patil, deshmukh, Raj playing their scripted roles - they all come out as saviors and champions. None of them care for people - but they know people like you do, who will give them a winning hand. Just look at who comes out sure winner and loser out of this political divide-rule charade. It works every time.

Like it or not, regionalism is established and accepted part of Indian federation. All states practice it. Many states practice it far more rigidly than Maharastra does. But rarely regionalism has been subjected to such a blatant divide-rule for election politics in recent history. I thought most political parties have matured not needing to resort to such desperate politics to gain power - but I guess congress politicians are different breed.

Abhinandan Mishra
October 22, 2008
11:53 AM

" @kerty Do we know why The Railway Board exams for recruitment covered only the Yadavs coming from Bihar and nobody from other states, including Uttar Pradesh?"

The allegation that the railway ministry did not publish notices in the local newspapers of Maharasthra have no logic and are baseless. Anyone can pick up yesterdays (21-10-2008) Hindustan times and see for himself.

HT has come out with a detailed writeup in which it has clearly stated the details of the local and national Maharashtra edition newspapers in which the railway published the advertisement regarding the recruitment drive.

Employment news too carried the notice and i dont need to mention that the Employment news is circulated in Maharashtra too.

As for only people from Bihar appearing for the exams...examinees from Rajasthan too were there.

And i don't know what to make out of the IANS article that you have posted...we all agree that Bihar is a backward state..so? let it rot? let the Biharis die? admonish them? Are you suggesting that since some miscreants threw a couple out of train all Biharis should be punished?

I am waiting for an answer

October 22, 2008
12:26 PM

It is absolutely unfortunate that there was violence and every single perperator has to be accountable (including the guys who damaged my car).

However, I totally agree with Kerty's assessment. We will have to find a solution to Bihar/UP's export of poverty. That solution cannot be violence but surely a situation where mothers in Bihar and UP having 4 children when the rest of the country is having 2 cannot continue forever.

Lastly, we are a federal state. If the rest of the country is to be overwhelmed by UP/Bihar folks, separation from the country will be the only option.

October 22, 2008
12:35 PM

Abhinandan #6

I found the following in this story

- lack of balance in the coverage
- it never tried to give context or big picture within which events took place
- emotionally-charged micro-management of events for maximum manipulation
- it smacked of usual post-tragedy manipulations that mask political manipulations

IANS story evokes a strong emotional outrage too. It has same emotional elements in this story as in your story. It happened in train, Biharis were involved, people died, the violence was outrageous, and it had its set of villains, end of story, just like your story ends. What sets apart both stories? That one story has a much wider context, the other one is a stray incident. We we are going to micromanage for manipulation, IANS story is a perfect parody.

It did struck me in IANS story that the victim had to migrate all the way to Harayana to work as a daily wage factory labourer. That does not sound like migration for better life or good paying job. Why can't Bihar create even petty labor jobs in Bihar?

Another thing that is striking is lack of safety in trains and stations. They have become the den of mob violence, harassment, all sorts of crimes and terror. What has Lalu done to railways and what kind of people he has been recruiting to run down the railways?

October 22, 2008
01:04 PM

Chandra #7

Sorry to hear somebody damaged your car. You seem to have just bought it new, didn't you? It must be heart-breaking to have anything happen to it. I am not sure if insurance in India covers these kind of things. Still, it leaves scars and anguish, when it happens due to mindless mob violence, especially political one. Did MNS people did it to your car? I hope you press charges if they find the culprits - I know it seems near impossibility to nail even the low level hands-on operatives. India's knee-jerk and one-dimensional political process seem to lack maturity and robustness to deal with the issues faced by people of India.

October 22, 2008
01:24 PM


a genuine due respect (not the cliche one)...
if i wanted i could have included all the 'practical-logical'things that you say is missing in my article.

Writing a 'balanced' story is not that difficult these days. But being balanced was not my focus when i wrote this.

I'll like to take the liability of veering from the subject and put forth the predicament that i face while going through your post.

Why is that we have made a so big issue about the word ''emotion'? why is it that It has been reduced to status of being a taboo.

The notion is that when Emotions creeps in- objectivity-practicality goes out. Being Emotional is now seen as a negative trait- a sign of weak.

Do we always need to look at everything through the eyes of objectivity?

October 22, 2008
10:02 PM


Considering the current economic crisis and the mad traffic on Mumbai roads, I finally bought a second hand car :-). So the pain is a little lesser :-)

October 22, 2008
10:28 PM

Congress blames BJP, not Raj Thackary.


October 25, 2008
03:52 PM

As reported by PTI

In a new twist to the death of a Bihar boy, Railway police on Saturday released footage of closed circuit TV to claim that it was a case of accidental death and not due to attacks by MNS activists during agitation against north-Indians last week.

"Based on the footage received by CCTV, Pawan Kumar died in a railway accident at Andheri station in the morning," GRP Commissioner AK Sharma told PTI.

Kumar, a resident of Nalanda had come to the city last Saturday to take the railway board exam the next day, Sharma said. The accident occurred around 7.30 am, when he was trying to board a local train. He slipped and fell on platform number one at Andheri, Sharma said.

The CCTV on platform number two had captured the footage which showed he was severely injured and a coolie helped him rush to the hospital, he said, adding Kumar was pronounced dead on reaching the hospital.

October 26, 2008
05:01 AM

Bombay was built by the immigrants,you just can't ,one fine day, tell them to pack up their bags and leave.It is heart breaking seeing the biharis suffer.

October 26, 2008
12:09 PM

Not to condone the violence, the point is that the Biharis are the only community that simply end up in Bombay and hope it will take care of them without proportionately contributing to the economy. They take up jobs at the lowest rung of the economy ladder and refuse to move up.

Immigrants who built Bombay were smart and economically savvy people. The Gujarati folks transformed Mumbai's financial sector, they also transformed Gujarat into an industrial giant. Sindhis who arrived penniless after partition, within a few years were competing in business with the Gujaratis. The South Indians who migrated to Bombay in the 70s now run majority the hotel business. Their emphasis on technical education has made given them employment at all premiere technology institutions in Bombay. These communities now enjoy above average standard of living in Bombay. Though when they migrated they were at the bottom of the social ladder.
Why can't the Bihari immigrant population contribute similarly?

October 26, 2008
12:17 PM


""Not to condone the violence, the point is that the Biharis are the only community that simply end up in Bombay and hope it will take care of them without proportionately contributing to the economy. They take up jobs at the lowest rung of the economy ladder and refuse to move up."'

and still, a lot of us believe that racism, stereotyping of entire groups etc. does not exist in India, but are the constitutive features of "the west".

October 26, 2008
12:28 PM

Biharis are now rioting and arsoning in Bihar. They called bandh in Bihar. There is no reflection, introspection, but same old mindless violence. How is that going to help Biharis? They refuse to confront deeper issues that affect them. These are the same organizations that have made Bihar a Bimaru state, forcing Biharis to look else where for their economic welfare. Wonder why no sane Bihari wants to stay in Bihar? Why can't Bihar become like Gujarat, Maharastara or Punjab or Karnataka?

October 26, 2008
12:55 PM

From that IP:

* "junk" has posted 7 comments
* "ajay" has posted 3 comments
* "amchi" has posted 2 comments
* "Noose" has posted 1 comments
* "phew" has posted 1 comments

Abhinandan mishra
October 26, 2008
02:52 PM

kerty-17 ''Biharis are now rioting and arsoning in Bihar. They called bandh in Bihar."
The people of Bihar people did not support the bandh just like the common Maharasthrian did not support the violence. So it will be unfair to club a mob of 100 odd intent on showing their strength and with a common man.

October 26, 2008
03:53 PM

Amchi- Why can't the Bihari immigrant population contribute similarly?

Chandra: To suggest that the Bihari population does not contribute to Mumbai or has no desire to move up the ladder is a comment laden with ignorance. The Bihari population is caught between poor Governance in its own state and a fight at the bottom in Mumbai. Any Bihari who is able to move up the ladder in Mumbai is doing it against huge odds which cannot be compared with Gujratis or Sindhis or South Indians.

October 26, 2008
06:22 PM


""Biharis are now rioting and arsoning in Bihar.""

arsoning??? arsoning???

reminds me of the time when the government spend a million dollars to build a urinal somewhere, and somebody complained: 'if the are spending this amount, why can't they go all the way and build an arsenal, instead of just a urinal""?

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